The main naval parade is a wonderful sight and seems to be one of the main reasons for the existence of our fleet.
The naval section of the "Military Review" was overwhelmed by a furious storm: the mastodons of the site in the person of M. Klimov and A. Timokhin fend off an article by other respected authors - R. Skoromokhov and A. Vorontsov.
- Does Russia need a strong fleet?
- A blow against reality or about the fleet, Tu-160 and the cost of human error.
The topic of discussion is perhaps somewhat trivial, especially in the historical context. Its relevance, however, remains unchanged ...
Does Russia need a fleet?
This topic for the noble Russian society can be called as painful as the topic of nuclear weapons for the American society. It can be characterized by an extremely simple but well-defined phrase - "a suitcase without a handle."
It was not for nothing that I mentioned the attitude of the United States towards its nuclear arsenal.
No matter how funny and strange it may sound for us, the inhabitants of Russia, the "triad" for the inhabitants of the States has become an extremely costly object of state prestige. In Congress, Democrats are breaking spears in verbal battles with Republicans, either offering to completely reduce the ground part of the triad, or even getting rid of atomic weapons altogether.
For Russia, the fleet has become a similar problem.
Of course, one should agree with the assertions of Alexander Timokhin, who has repeatedly written that even in the professional community, the goals and objectives of the naval forces are understood extremely primitively and wrongly. And the fleet is perceived only as a little-functional element of national prestige.
The complexity of conceptual perception is superimposed on others: technical, economic, scientific, demographic. As a result, we get a dead end: even the top military leadership of the country cannot create at least some relevant and effective strategy for the use of naval forces.
The ineffectiveness of the fleet's weapons programs and the low return on targeted investments in it can be justified, first of all, precisely by the conceptual lack of understanding of its role in the Russian armed forces. And without any clear theoretical views, it is simply impossible to create an effective navy.
In such conditions, "rocket gunboats" (like Buyan-M) do not just get the "green light" to the detriment of larger and more functional ships. By no means, the concept of their use (to throw a cruise missile from point A to point B at a distance of 1,5 kilometers to the bad guys and change their location using river routes) is quite clear to the top management.
Even an amateur has a practical benefit: from the construction of a "rocket-mosquito" fleet. In the eyes of people uninitiated in the intricacies of naval affairs, this looks absolutely intelligible and logical. Unlike complex, obscure, large and expensive aircraft carriers.
What solution can be found in such a situation?
When are we (like the Americans) unable to “throw the suitcase away” and don't know where to put it?
Someone proposes even larger investments in the construction of new ships and the expansion of the naval forces. Someone calls for getting rid of the fleet altogether, leaving only those notorious “missile gunboats”. Someone is looking for an answer in a large series of strategic bombers, as A. Vorontsov and R. Skoromokhov did.
Personally, I tend to disagree with any of them.
Perhaps it is worth saying right away that I do not plan to consider and condemn the absurd ideas about the complete elimination of the fleet.
Even if a country does not understand its need now, this does not mean that it will not understand its value later. Nobody offers to get rid of the Strategic Missile Forces because they "have not defeated anyone."
And the situation with the naval forces is absolutely the same.
This is one of the elements of ensuring defense capability. This means that it is necessary - albeit not in its current form.
All sorts of bias in favor of the fleet of "anti-submarine strategic bombers" are also hardly suitable for our realities. Take a look at the argument given by A. Vorontsov and R. Skoromokhov:
“So the US needs a weapon that projects its power very quickly and efficiently.
And as such a weapon, the United States uses its strategic bombers B-52 and B1 Lancer. "
And as such a weapon, the United States uses its strategic bombers B-52 and B1 Lancer. "
This is hardly the main argument.
Primarily because the Americans have these bombers have already been - they just refitted them, including in part already existing system.
In addition, the B-52 and Tu-160 are vehicles of completely different concepts and characteristics.
However, Alexander and Roman were right about one thing - the sea aviation is required.
Let's say more - a comprehensively developed naval aviation with the appropriate infrastructure looks the most attractive, understandable and practical way to invest in our naval power.
Of course, the reasoning of A. Timokhin about a strong fleet for our country is difficult to label as “false” or “wrong”. Sometimes, albeit with very specific examples, Alexander offers quite rational concepts.
However, it is worth adding a fly in the ointment.
Fabrications of this kind are not suitable for the current realities of our state. And they do not fit, first of all, because of the very “land-continental thinking”.
The idea of the navy as an independent branch of the armed forces capable of being a conductor of global geopolitics is absolutely unviable as long as the navy remains psychologically and strategically a "suitcase without a handle."
At the moment, the fleet is not facing any adequate operational and tactical tasks.
Its current existence is determined by vague formulations such as "ensuring the protection of national interests."
Yes, the "SSBN cover", which has set everyone's teeth on edge, if it comes to at least some specifics.
What large-scale naval construction can we talk about in such conditions?
How can a power, with four potential water war zones and a huge land border with many hostile neighbors, find a balance between efficiency and necessity?
The reasoning given below is, of course, a private view of the topic.
Of course, asking yourself this question, many may come to a completely different answer - but mine will be unambiguous: aviation.
The construction of naval aviation looks like the most adequate and practical solution possible. in the current environment, such as:
- Separation and geographical remoteness of theaters of naval operations.
- Poor development of the naval infrastructure.
- The unwillingness of the industry to ensure the construction of large series of ships with an effective composition of weapons.
- Lack of adequate concepts and strategies for the creation and use of the fleet.
- The presence of a local preponderance of the forces of potential adversaries over the Russian Navy.
Of course, such a concept cannot be considered outside the framework of a full-fledged set of measures, both for the development of military infrastructure and for the reduction of existing work on the sluggish development of the ship's personnel.
It cannot be said that the current ship composition in this case will go under liquidation. Not at all. We need the available forces both to give combat stability and to save money in order to more effectively implement the fleet development strategy. The ships must be repaired, modernized. (But only for reasons of practicality - modernization is necessary only in cases where it will contribute to both the extension of the vessel's service life and essential increasing his fighting qualities).
And build new ones - albeit at the current modest pace. (But with one essential condition - for the sake of saving money and targeting practicality, it is necessary to stop launching all kinds of "rocket gunboats" - the allocated money is much more expedient to spend on multipurpose fighter-bombers).
The Chinese artificial island of the Fiery Cross is an aircraft carrier for people with a "land-continental" mindset.
Source: © digitalglobe.com
The primary task can be noted the extremely painful problem for our armed forces, the problem of AWACS aircraft. And no one will deny that they are vital for us, both at sea and on land.
There is no point in building a "fleet of naval strategic bombers" and "large series of URO destroyers" if we do not have adequate target designation and effective radar coverage. Thus, the most balanced and sharpest blade will be useless in the hands of a blind man.
It is incredibly important for both the Aerospace Forces and the Navy to get the A-100 Premier at their disposal - in the current reality, it remains to be hoped that this machine will soon be put into production.
It is critically important to invest money not in "light aircraft carriers" that do not have any infrastructure for operation, but directly in the infrastructure itself: in naval shipyards, in supply and repair bases, in the construction of airfields, in radar posts.
Many often nod towards the PRC, trying to use as an argument the large-scale pace of development of the Chinese fleet, but they completely forget that our eastern neighbor has been developing the logistics sector for decades, while for many years being content with a mosquito fleet, naval aviation and ground anti-ship complexes.
Moreover, China, with all its industrial capabilities, for some reason does not hesitate to create "unsinkable aircraft carriers" in the form of bulk islands.
We continue to dream of megalomania, stubbornly avoiding the theme of developing a strong ground defense of our coast.
A well-prepared infrastructure is the foundation of any military campaign. And our enemies think about it much more than we do.
Unfortunately, the USSR at one time made a similar mistake, developing large-scale naval construction without the construction of an adequate accompanying infrastructure. And we all know very well what a tragedy it turned out later.
The basis of war is logistics
So why did we decide that it would be different in naval war?
Passing further, it can be noted that the statement that the updated strike forces of the Navy must first of all be formed on the basis of aviation, due to the geographical separation of our fleets, will not be incorrect. Only aviation will make it possible to urgently strengthen our defense in potentially dangerous areas during a threatened period.
Of course, talking about such a topic is much easier than making real decisions. Even now (at the level of theoretical reasoning) we are faced with a number of chronic problems that will not know when they will receive their solution. In addition to the absence of AWACS aircraft, we have practically no anti-submarine aviation as a class. Il-38 and Il-38N are outdated long ago. And we are talking not only about its replacement, but even a full modernization. But we need PLO aircraft like air, given the length of our sea borders and the number of water areas.
We do not have any intelligible patrol aircraft either. As there are no adequate promising projects. All this is superimposed on the difficulties with the launch of the production of new types of transport and passenger aircraft for long-haul airlines, without which it is impossible to create an updated air fleet.
However, we have excellent multipurpose Su-35S fighters - machines that have been proven in combat conditions and have been fine-tuned in production. (Recall 112 units in 11 years is an excellent pace for today's times). Run-in among the troops, ready without additional upgrades for the use of X-35 anti-ship missiles and other high-precision weapons.
I will not talk about how many of them need to be in naval aviation. But in order to create a strike force, we should first order these heavily armed, modern aircraft at a favorable price for the armed forces.
The idea of creating specialized naval vehicles based on front-line bombers Su-34 looks almost criminal in my eyes. Such a step will entail additional R&D, a delay in the launch of production, and the lack of unification with the Aerospace Forces fleet (including in terms of preparation). And it will sharply narrow the range of tasks performed by naval pilots.
With a well-equipped strike aircraft specializing in naval warfare, we will be able to provide a real battle to any potential enemy, especially in such closed waters as the Black and Baltic Seas.
In the event of the outbreak of hostilities, the Aerospace Forces will not have to allocate air regiments to protect the ship's composition. On the contrary, the fleet will be able to independently carry out combat missions, having its own fighter cover and overwhelming superiority in the number of missile salvoes. And in such conditions, it is not at all for us to ensure the survival of the miserable remnants of the surface (and if the industrialists swing and issue a new PLO aircraft, then the submarine) fleet.
So, let us single out a number of theses in favor of the priority development of naval aviation:
- The ability of the aviation industry to ensure the mass production of most of the aircraft types required by the fleet.
- A number of demanded aircraft are already in production, and we know their combat and operational capabilities.
- Aviation has a wider functionality, fitting into the standard fleet budget. (Of course, if we are not talking about "anti-submarine strategic bombers").
- Naval aviation can be largely unified with the Aerospace Forces, capable of performing tasks similar to those of the Aerospace Forces and, if necessary, provide support for our troops even not in the naval theaters of the military base. (For example, it will be somewhat problematic to use a frigate from the Northern Fleet somewhere in the steppes of the Southern Urals, but the Su-35 is quite possible).
- Aviation is a high-tech sector of the economy that spurs both science and industry. And with a high export potential (in the current realities, much larger than the fleet).
- Formation of orders for promising aircraft platforms can move the stagnant projects of the aviation industry off the ground, which will have a positive effect on both defense capability and the economy.
- Aviation is a conceptually understandable weapon close to our leadership. At the same time, it has a huge range of capabilities required by our Navy.
The striking power of our naval forces should be embodied in a similar quality, and not in the form of "rocket boats".
What tasks will the naval forces be able to carry out in full, whose construction will rely primarily on aviation and a developed ground infrastructure?
- Long-range radar control, detection and target designation.
- Patrol and search tasks (in the presence of a full-fledged UAV air fleet, patrolling, including remote zones, can be carried out at least around the clock).
- Anti-submarine defense.
- Reconnaissance actions using electronic and other means (including with the involvement of electronic intelligence ships - this class of ships should be developed in the first place: the Soviet experience proves that long-range reconnaissance is much more valuable in matters of ensuring the country's defense than any aircraft carriers).
- Quantitative and qualitative superiority or parity over potential local opponents. (Which is impossible under the current conditions with the use of the available forces. But it is quite possible with the development of naval aviation - say, for Turkey or Poland that do not have their own aviation industry, such a strategy will have catastrophic consequences in the near future).
- Construction and operation of military infrastructure facilities, contributing to both duplication and redundancy of existing ones, and the implementation of current tasks. (Investments in the previously listed logistics facilities will be a valuable and rewarding investment for decades to come. They will pay off, both now and in the future, if the naval component of the naval forces expands.)
- Formation of expeditionary groups based on the current ship composition. (This measure suggests itself since the beginning of the Syrian campaign, in which the fleet did not show itself in the best way. It is because of the lack of specialized operational-tactical units. In the presence of a strong coastal defense and local air superiority, it is quite realistic to ensure the presence of the Navy in potentially dangerous areas ).
Thus, we can see that the strategy of planned and comprehensive development of the aviation component of the Navy turns the fleet from a useless and expensive toy into a separate and effective type of armed forces that can both act independently (which is currently impossible) and provide comprehensive support to others. structures in the ranks of our Armed Forces.
This vector makes it possible to obtain the first results in a relatively short time (7–12 years). They will really affect the country's defense capability, while positively affecting the industrial and economic sectors.
The current forces of the fleet will not only not be cut down, but will also receive an adequate material and technical base, and will also be significantly strengthened by strike aviation.
Separately, it is worth mentioning the creation of a serious reserve in the event of a large-scale war (including a land war), which ensures the creation of a solid air fleet with all the necessary infrastructure and its inherent mobility. (Here we can talk about many extremely favorable logistic factors: about the creation of stocks of high-precision weapons, spare parts warehouses, fuel depots, additional flight and engineering personnel, etc.).
In such conditions, it will be possible to carry out work for the future: the comprehensive and active operation of naval aviation will provide an excellent groundwork for the creation of carrier-based aviation. (If, of course, such a need arises).
This will provide reprieve for the naval industry, which is having serious problems with the pace of shipbuilding, and will provide a ready-made infrastructure for the potential further development of the fleet.
The current ship composition can be used to strengthen the presence of the armed forces in the directions we need.
Thus, our "land continental" will be perfectly combined with such an approach, providing military power, coupled with understandable, psychologically and politically close to us concepts.